Letter to AFTRA Steward Don Rush from DN! Staff
by Lyn Gerry
The following letter was sent to Pacfica Network News reporter Don Rush by the Democracy Now! staff. Rush, an AFTRA steward, has supported Pacifica management at every juncture - from the purges at the stations to the removal of Dan Coughlin as New Director for airing a story on the Pacifica crisis.
On several occasions, he has assisted the management in presenting various groups within the free pacifica movement as engaging in anti-labor activities. For example, denying that the striking stringers of Free Speech Radio News are engaged in a strike because they are not under union contract, and also working to undermine a teach-in held in Los Angeles a few months ago where the Pacifica crisis was discussed. The AFTRA unit under Rush's stewardship at that time, issued a statement which was crafted in collaboration with management, as well as distributed by the Pacifica management, which was designed to pressure participants with labor affiliations to withdraw support.
TO: DON RUSH, AFTRA UNION STEWARD
FROM: DEMOCRACY NOW! STAFF
September 14, 2001
We are outraged and disgusted that you, as an AFTRA union steward, have decided to broadcast in the place of Democracy Now! while we are suspended without pay and blocked from the airwaves by Pacifica national management.
Pacifica station KPFA and affiliates around the country have been broadcasting Democracy Now!, expanded to two hours every day. We are just blocks from ground zero here in downtown Manhattan, the only radio program in the country broadcasting from inside the evacuation zone. On the day of the terrible attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon we were on the airwaves for eight straight hours. We continued to broadcast while WBAI and other radio stations were empty and off the airwaves. Democracy Now! staff slept in our studio so we could stay here and continue to reach our listeners at this vital time.
Listeners have been clamoring for the alternative perspective that Democracy Now! is bringing forward, when the US government and the media are relentlessly beating the drums of war. Given the enormity of what's happened we are reluctant to even take the time from our reporting to write you on this matter.
We left the studios of WBAI a month ago because they are unsafe. AFTRA has said it is "no longer satisfied that the WBAI studios are a safe and appropriate working environment for the Democracy Now! staff." The majority of the Pacifica National Board has demanded that Pacifica management return us to the airwaves and restore our pay while we broadcast from an offsite location. AFTRA President John Connolly stated publicly, "they should not have to return to the unsafe WBAI workplace, and it is our feeling that the broadcast currently originating in downtown Manhattan should be permitted to continue from the remote location."
Only one person, Pacifica Executive Director Bessie Wash, has defied the board and union and blocked our broadcast from the airwaves. Now there are two. Why did you turn your back on us, defy the will of your own union and take the side of management?
Does the notion of worker solidarity mean anything to you? What about supporting your essentially locked out union brothers and sisters? How could you scab on other members of your own union by taking their place when they are under attack by management?
We demand that you, as the AFTRA steward, join us and your union in calling on Pacifica management to immediately return Democracy Now! to the airwaves.
Do your job. Don't take ours.
The Staff of Democracy Now!
Amy Goodman, Host
Kris Abrams, Producer
Brad Simpson, Producer
Anthony Sloan, Engineer